A senior official from the nation’s Caribbean ally Saint Lucia on Tuesday expressed support for Taiwan’s participation in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) during the ICAO Assembly in Montreal, Canada, leading to a protest by the Chinese delegation.
During the plenary session of the 40th ICAO Assembly, Saint Lucian Minister for Physical Planning Herod Stanislas said Taiwan should be entitled to attend the three-yearly meeting as an observer, as its exclusion runs contrary to the UN-affiliated body’s objective of achieving a “seamless sky.”
“Saint Lucia therefore requests that this assembly, in the interest of global aviation safety and security, consider granting observer status to Republic of China to attend the ICAO Assembly and to participate in such organs of the ICAO as the council sees fit,” he said.
His remarks led to a protest from the Chinese delegation.
The head of the delegation reiterated Beijing’s stance that there is only “one China,” the People’s Republic of China (PRC), saying that Taiwan is part of its territory.
The delegation head cited UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 and ICAO’s own resolution, arguing that there is no legal basis for Taiwan to be included in ICAO events as it is not a sovereign state.
Passed on Oct. 25, 1971, during the 26th session of the UN General Assembly, Resolution 2758 recognizes the PRC as “the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations.”
Asked about the incident, Winston Chen (陳文儀), Taiwan’s representative to Canada, where the ICAO headquarters is located, expressed regret over the Chinese delegation’s response.
Taiwan has never been part of the PRC nor does Resolution 2758 say Taiwan is part of the PRC, he said.
Only Taiwan’s democratically elected government can represent its 23 million people, he added.
Other countries’ interactions with China should not be made at the expense of sacrificing the safety of their airline passengers, which also include Chinese nationals, he said.
He reiterated the government’s position that Taiwan’s exclusion from the ICAO has created a gap in the global aviation network and runs contrary to ICAO’s goal of creating a “seamless sky.”
The ICAO is the UN agency responsible for establishing worldwide aviation policies, with the ICAO Assembly serving as the organization’s sovereign body, which meets once every three years.
This year, 193 ICAO member states have been invited to participate in the week-long meeting that ends tomorrow.
Although not a member of the UN, Taiwan has sought to take part in the activities of UN-affiliated organizations, but faces major Chinese obstruction.
The last time Taiwan attended the ICAO Assembly was in 2013, when it was represented by Shen Chi (沈啟), then director-general of the Civil Aeronautics Administration under the previous Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration, which had better relations with Beijing.
That marked Taipei’s first involvement at the ICAO assembly since losing its seat at the UN to Beijing in 1971.
Cross-strait relations have cooled since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office on May 20, 2016, and opposition from Beijing is widely believed to be the main reason behind ICAO’s decision not to invite Taiwan since.
Beijing has taken a harder line against Taiwan because Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party administration refuses to accept that Taiwan and China are part of “one China” as a political precondition for cross-strait dialogue and exchanges.
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